Tag Archives: mental health

P-37: What are the Liberal Democrats talking about today? Mental Health and the manifesto for the mind

We’ll be having daily deeper and more detailed look at the party’s main theme. Today it’s mental health. Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb this morning said that Liberal Democrats (or should that be Democats?) would invest £3.5 billion in mental health over the next Parliament.

Part of our record in Government includes securing £150 million to help young people with eating disorders. A new video shows Kat sharing her experience of living with an eating disorder:

The Party’s Manifesto for the mind outlines a wide-ranging suite of measures to improve mental health services:

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Today’s headlines show just how much work is still to do on mental health stigma

All of us have been moved by the Germanwings plane crash, feeling for those who have lost loved ones or colleagues. The circumstances of the crash, caused by what seems to be a deliberate act by the co-pilot, has provoked much comment in the press, much of it deeply irresponsible. Headlines have screamed about Andreas Lubitz’s mental health demanding to know why he was allowed to fly.

Lurid headlines, written by sub-editors who clearly have no clue about mental health, do not help to either tackle the stigma faced by people with mental ill health or encourage those who suffer to seek help. The more open we can be about mental health, the more we understand. That leads to a more comfortable and sympathetic world for those who are suffering.

It’s worth reading this statement from Mind, which acts the media to report the issue responsibly:

The terrible loss of life in the Germanwings plane crash is tragic, and we send our deepest sympathies to the families. Whilst the full facts are still emerging, there has been widespread media reporting speculating about the link with the pilot’s history of depression, which has been overly simplistic.

Clearly assessment of all pilots’ physical and mental health is entirely appropriate – but assumptions about risk shouldn’t be made across the board for people with depression, or any other illness. There will be pilots with experience of depression who have flown safely for decades, and assessments should be made on a case by case basis.

Today’s headlines risk adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems, which millions of people experience each year, and we would encourage the media to report this issue responsibly.

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Clegg launches Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation

I think it’s fair to say that Nick Clegg may not exactly rock the tracksuit look, but he did do something very valuable today. In one of his last engagements as Deputy Prime Minister before the election campaign, he launched the Charter for Mental Health in Sport and Recreation aimed at kicking the mental health stigma out of sport. The video explains why:

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Archie Lamb talks to The Times about his struggles with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Norman Lamb’s son Archie has been talking to the Times about his experience of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Many people with this condition find it incredibly irritating when people casually joke about “being a bit OCD”. If you are one of them, perhaps you’ll stop after reading about what life is like for sufferers. This is not a condition to be belittled.

Archie talked about how the condition affects him:

“People think OCD is nothing, that it’s a bit of a joke. It is not just about being clean and washing your hands or lining up cans of Coke in the fridge. It’s not. It’s about terrible thoughts and what it does to you having them in your head all the time. It goes a lot deeper than rituals,” Archie says.

Archie’s rituals were about checking — that lights were switched off, that he had the right kit in his bag, keys, money, everything. Often accompanied with paranoia, they became so bad that at times he could not leave the house. On a simple walk down the road he would constantly check that he had not stepped in something.

Despite his illness, he left school and began to make his way in the music business, setting up a hip-hop night in a Norwich club, then moving on to managing performers. At the age of 21 he had a chart-topping hit on his hands when Tinchy Stryder went to No 1.

Sadly, his OCD was so bad that he had become a recluse. “I suddenly got spots on my face at that age and just could not go out of the house. Everyone was out partying because we had this No 1 hit and I didn’t even care. I just stayed in.”

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Opinion: Will mental health be a vote-winner?

Mark Argent 1

I was surprised when I saw the promotion of mental health emerging Liberal Democrat policy. Its effects are far more widespread than people like to admit, but mental health is so stigmatised that it seems a long way from being a vote-winner. Like entering the coalition, championing it seems like something important, but where we might have to pay a price in terms of popularity.

It is a difficult area to write about. Among my own circle of friends there are a number of people whose lives are badly affected by mental health issues. The area is so stigmatised that I feel I can’t tell stories in writing, but the stories I can’t write down would include some real achievements, of people coping with really difficult situations.

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Opinion: Could you save a life?

As a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate I have received emails from St John Ambulance and from the British Red Cross, both wishing to promote First Aid. But what about mental health first aid? With equal parity now being given to mental and physical health, shouldn’t First Aid include Mental Health First Aid?

I think so. And I am pleased that Lib Dems at conference thought so too, for we approved new mental health policy which included a clause I submitted with the support of Oxford East:

To consult with external bodies on the content of, and how best to include training in, Mental Health First Aid, with a view to incorporating elements of Mental Health First Aid into existing First Aid at Work courses.

Imagine the world before First Aid classes, before people were taught the recovery position and CPR. Before such training, if someone was ill people would flap and call for help. They would not get involved.

The same thing happens when people are in mental health crisis. People feel inadequate, have no idea how to help, and do not get involved.

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Norman Lamb writes…A blueprint for a fairer society

1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health problem at some point in our lives – and 75% of these conditions develop by the age of 18. If people don’t get the support they need in childhood and adolescence it can have an impact on the rest of their lives.  
 
And in yesterday’s budget, Liberal Democrats acted decisively to make sure the best possible support is available, with £1.25bn of new investment in young people’s mental health services, and a clear blue print for delivering the transformation needed.
 
If we want to build a fairer society, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential in life, we must ensure that young people with mental health problems get the help and support they need.
 
There are some really good mental health services for young people around the country. But too often these services are fragmented and under-resourced, and young people are simply not getting help when they need it.  A complete overhaul is long overdue.
 
Last year, I set up a Task Force to look at how we can link up mental health services with other advice services in the community, making it easier – and less daunting – for young people to seek help, and making sure they get the right support when they ask for it.
 
The task force brought together clinicians, counsellors, and mental health experts – but also, crucially, young people themselves with experience of mental health problems.  The charity Young Minds helped us work with young people to understand the problems they have faced getting help, and their priorities for change.
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Live this evening – Nick Clegg’s “State of Mind”

It’s one of those headings where the speech marks are essential …

Nick says he wants to “lift the lid on what it is like for the one in four people in the UK who suffer with mental illness”. He will be hosting a programme this evening on LBC in which he will interview people with mental health problems and those who support them, followed by a Q&A.

You can watch the programme live at 7pm today.

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Mental health and employment support must be available to all who need it

For most people, work plays a defining role in their lives. It provides structure, the money to live and enjoy life, and for the lucky ones, it can provide a sense of achievement and purpose. Every one of these elements is a component in supporting good mental health, and helps to explain in part the vicious cycle of mental ill-health and unemployment, as well as the critical role that employment can play in mental health recovery.

But it’s sadly not true to assume that work is always good for you mental health. Surveys have found the mild to moderate mental health problems – including stress, anxiety or depression – are the most common reasons people are signed off work, and mental ill health costs UK employers £26billion every year: £8.5billion in sickness absence, £15.1billion in lost productivity and £2.4billion in staff turnover. That’s an average of more than £1000 for every employee, so it’s in everybody’s interests to make sure that employers do everything they can to improve employees mental health, and to encourage them to seek support and treatment as soon as mental health problems develop. While there are some fantastic employers who ‘get’ mental health and its debilitating impact on their employees as well as their business, a recent survey conducted by CentreForum found that two thirds of people said they had been treated unfairly in keeping a job, and 75% said they had stopped themselves applying for work due to fear of discrimination. This needs to end.

That’s why the Mental Health Commission I chaired made the workplace one of our priorities for action. As we recommended, there should be a concerted effort to make UK businesses and services mental health friendly employers, with all organisations with more than 500 employees signing up to a mental health kitemark and 90% of these organisations on board by 2020. I am proud to be able to say that we established the first government funding for the Time to Change campaign – which works to end mental health discrimination – during my tenure as Minister responsible for mental health. It is fantastic that under Norman Lamb, the government have committed to continue funding this crucial work.  To maximise our impact, we now need to ensure that all public sector bodies have taken up the mantle, and use public sector procurement to filter this commitment throughout the distribution chain. At the same time, Norman Lamb has called on all FTSE 100 companies to sign up to the Time to Change initiative – and this is a call we should all echo.

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Opinion: Mental health – is prevention a potential solution?

Just as public health experts develop strategies to tackle binge drinking, smoking and obesity, do we need to develop a more comprehensive approach to preventing mental ill health? With youth depression, alone, having doubled in the last 20 years, maybe it’s time to look again at ways to prevent mental health problems from taking their toll at different stages in our lives. It’s complicated, but here are just some thoughts on what might help.

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Opinion: How the UK immigration system damaged my mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015I wanted to talk a bit about how immigrating to the UK has affected my mental health, because both mental health and immigration are subjects on which I ‎look to the Lib Dems to support me with, via good policies and campaigning.

I’ve been in the UK nine years now, but when I’m standing in that non-EU passports line (I’ve long been eligible for citizenship but I can’t afford the application fees), I can’t help but hear similar interrogations going on to the ones I remember when I first came here and was interrogated by a big scary scouser for two hours– how long are you staying? how much money have you got with you? — I can’t help but think “that’s how it started…”

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Thanks for talking #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Regular readers will be used to me banging my drum on these pages about the work that Lib Dems are doing in government on mental health.

Mental health has been disadvantaged within the NHS for far too long, and changes like legislating for equality for mental health, introducing the first access and waiting time standards, and – in particular – confronting the poor state of children’s mental health services in many places are all incredibly important.

But something just as important has been happening here on Lib Dem Voice today.

I wrote here about Time to Talk a year ago, saying that contributions from fellow members had reinforced for me, powerfully, why I am a Liberal Democrat. Tackling mental health stigma is fundamentally about freedom – freedom from poverty, ignorance, and conformity.

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Opinion: He told me I was ordinary #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Hi, my name is Alex. I’m an 18 year old who loves travelling, ABBA and wearing waistcoats for no apparent reason.

I’ve also got a mental illness.

The psychiatrists aren’t quite sure what it is. For a while they thought it was Bipolar Disorder, now they are starting to think it’s Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m a bit of a curious case.

I suffer from intense emotions: anxiety, anger, sadness, happiness etc. I have too much of all of them and switch between them at the drop of a hat. It makes me unpredictable and sometimes unreasonable. I store things up until I burst. Being my friend is difficult. You have to get used to the odd paranoid outburst and over enthusiasm when I’m in a very good mood.

One day a teacher did something to set me off. He’d joked about one of my habits – I still suck my thumb because it helps me feel safe – in front of my class. I took myself off to the bathrooms and burst into hysterical sobbing. I used my nails to scratch my arms red raw and kicked at the wall until my leg tired.

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It was a Monday in November 2000…#timetotalk

Time to talk 2015It was a Monday in November 2000 around 11am at work. My boss put his head round the corner:

“Have you got a moment, please Paul?”

“Yes, sure”, I replied.

I followed my manager, another Paul, to a room where a member of our Human Resources group was sitting. The long and the short of it was that they wanted me to take a week off work as paid leave and arrange for free counselling for me. I agreed. Boss Paul, bless him, drove me home in his posh BMW and waited around for my wife to come home so he could explain the situation to her, so she wasn’t “spooked”. (Her first reaction was that I was being sacked, but fortunately he was able to reassure her).

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An introduction to #timetotalk day

Time to talk 2015As I said last night, we are marking the Time to Change campaign’s #timetotalk day today to encourage all our readers to take 5 minutes out of their day to have a conversation about mental health. We have a series of thought provoking articles and it may be that, like last year, some more come in on the day.

I’m going to kick off with a brief post along the lines of that covering the themes suggested by the Time to Change campaign.

My name is Caron and I have experienced Depression and Anxiety on and off since I was a child. I’m currently in the middle of the worst episode of Depression I’ve had in 12 years.

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Tomorrow, it’s #timetotalk about mental health on Liberal Democrat Voice

We already talk quite a lot about mental health on Liberal Democrat Voice, but tomorrow we want to have a specific focus on the issue as part of Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day. They are asking all of us to take 5 minutes to have a conversation about mental health.

We are looking for contributions from readers, whether it’s sharing ideas or experiences to post on the site tomorrow. Please send them to [email protected] Ideally, they should be somewhere between 300-500 words, but feel free to be creative. If you want to share a video, or a graphic, that’s fine too.

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Opinion: Mental health is a hot topic again – and rightly so

Our Ministers have done much to rectify the shameful situation under Labour where mental health was a poor cousin to physical health – something Labour’s policies still haven’t addressed.

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Opinion: Time to dump the 4 hour A & E target

To be frank, as a doctor, I have been underwhelmed by our Liberal Democrat offering on health issues over the years; certainly we are not as strong on health as we should be.

The almost daily drip feed from the right wing press on NHS shortcomings and failures is demoralising to staff and frightening to patients and designed to be so. It serves no-one except those who want to undermine the public’s confidence in the NHS. The service treats three quarters of a million patients every day of the year, and for most people there is no alternative.

So I am  relieved that at last we have something distinctive to offer with Norman Lamb’s ideas on mental health; parity of access and delivery, more  research and funding. This is important, and we need to ‘own’ it as Liberal Democrat policy.

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Nick Clegg takes questions on Men’s Health UK’s Facebook page

Nick Clegg's men's health q and aOn Thursday, Nick Clegg took part in a question and answer session on the Men’s Health UK Facebook page. The magazine has published some of the session here.

He talked quite movingly about the need to tackle the stigma attached to mental health to make it easier for particularly men to talk about their illness:

 One of the keys to changing this is to ensure that mental health trusts work with families and friends of patients just as much as with the patients themselves. When I visited the superb Mersey Care trust last week I met a patient who told me that when he was in hospital for a heart operation he received a constant and welcome stream of visiting friends and family. Yet when he was in a mental health ward for five months he received only three visits during his whole time there. That says all we need to know about the crippling effect of the stigma that still surrounds mental health. That’s why campaigns like Time to Change are so vital.

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LibLink: Baroness Claire Tyler – Mental health matters

Writing on the Liberal Democrat website, Baroness Claire Tyler sets out detailed ways in which government can radically improve the treatment of mental health problems:

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Norman Lamb MP writes… We need to talk openly about suicide and work to prevent it

Yesterday was supposedly “blue Monday” – the most depressing day of the year.  The idea was dreamed up in 2005 by a TV marketing campaign to sell holidays and the myth persists.

But yesterday, Nick Clegg and I were talking about something really serious.  Almost 4,700 people took their own lives in 2013 in England alone, and suicide remains one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50.  We hosted a conference bringing together leading figures in the mental health world to call for an ambition for ‘zero suicides’ across the NHS.

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Nick Clegg’s speech today on mental health

Nick clegg by dave radcliffe, liberal democratsThis is the full text of the speech Nick Clegg gave today at the Mental Health Conference that he co-hosted with Norman Lamb. You can see a video of part of the speech here.

Imagine breaking your leg, only to be told that your nearest care facility was half way across the country, with a long waiting list and no guarantees about when you’ll actually get the help you need. Or developing diabetes but being too scared to tell your family, friends and your boss about what’s happening, because you’re worried about how they might react and possibly losing your job.

If any of these things happened to someone with a serious physical health condition in our country, there would quite rightly be outrage. It would be on the front page of every national newspaper and dominate Prime Minister’s Questions every week. People would be out on the streets calling for reform. But this is exactly the kind of second-class treatment that people with mental health issues have had to endure for decades.

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Clegg: “Suicide is preventable, it is not inevitable”

Liberal Democrats are making sure that mental health stays in the headlines, and that our policies are linked in people’s minds with the issues. Today the focus has been on preventing suicide. Here was Nick Clegg speaking this morning:

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Norman Lamb praised in Cosmo…

Norman Lamb

Could we be on the brink of a huge  mental health breakthrough?

So asks no less a publication than Cosmopolitan in an article citing how Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has been making the weather on ensuring that the NHS has the money it needs in the future and for saying that improving mental health treatment is one of the key aims for the next Parliament.

Over the past ten years, there’s been a 77% rise in self–harm admissions to hospital among women under the age of 25, and young women are most likely to suffer from eating disorders. We’re also twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders, and one in four women will require treatment for depression at some time in her life. So it makes sense that the NHS needs urgent help to make these changes, doesn’t it?

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Jim Hume MSP writes…No room for complacency on mental health

With 2015 seeing the end of the current Mental Health Strategy we have a real opportunity to look at the successes and failure of the approach we take to tackling mental ill health in Scotland.

Our health professionals do fantastic work to help people suffering from mental ill health. But a lack of resources means that we are often asking medical staff to work with one hand tied behind their back.

Liberal Democrats in government have helped ensure that the NHS in other parts of the UK prioritise mental and physical ill health equally. But this is not yet the case in Scotland.

The Royal College of Nursing and other groups have been clear that mental health is often the poor relation to physical health when it comes to funding within the Scottish NHS. The impact of underinvestment in these crucial services is damaging for patients and medical professionals alike.

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Clegg says Lib Dems would spend extra £8bn on NHS

nhs sign lrgNick Clegg has set out how the Liberal Democrats would invest in the NHS in government for the next five years.

From the Guardian:

Fleshing out the figure released by the deputy prime minister at a press conference, the Lib Dems said they would increase the NHS’s funding by £8bn a year by 2020-21 in three stages. They would make permanent the coalition government’s extra £2bn a year – which was announced in the autumn statement – by 2015-16.

In addition, Clegg said the party would find another £1bn a year in real terms in 2016-17 by capping pension tax relief for the wealthiest (which the Lib Dems said would save £500m), aligning dividend tax with income tax for those earning more than £150,000 (saving £400m) and scrapping the shares for rights scheme, which allows employees to forfeit certain employment rights in return for company shares (saving £100m).

Once it had reduced the deficit in 2017-18, Clegg said that the party would increase health spending in line with growth in the economy. He said: “It’s a combination of change plus more money and the reason we can do that, and no other party will be able to do that, is firstly, as we explained at our party conference, is we are going to introduce some tax changes which only affect the very wealthiest, to put in an extra billion pounds into the NHS, and next year and the year after that.”

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Decades of not understanding Mental Health has left too many Unhelped – but we are getting there

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Minister, has written for the Huffington Post about the changes he’s been trying to implement in mental health care and treatment.

First he talked about services for young people:

Recent provisional data shows that hospital admissions for self-harm for young people aged 11-19 are at their highest for five years. Maybe it is better reporting, maybe it is a result of the added stresses young people face. But these figures represent real young people and their families and the serious emotional distress they face.

Some find it difficult to talk about their mental health, which is why it is so important for those who can to be open about the problems they have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is to encourage others to feel they can talk about it. In a way, it’s the most important thing.

I want young people to get good and compassionate personalised care. I want them to be given both physical and mental health care which helps them in their time of need but also gives them techniques and support to help prevent or manage further problems.

That’s why, earlier this year, I convened a Taskforce to advise us on improvements to mental health services for children and young people. This is the first time a group of experts from across, health, education and social care have come together to focus on making sure every young person gets the care they need. Crucially, we are also involving young people in this work so they can give their views on what they want from services. And it’s my aim that services don’t just stop at the youngsters themselves – services need to support entire families to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness.

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Nick Clegg announces £150 million to help young people with eating disorders

Nick, Ibrahim and Norman in Brent mental health visitYesterday, Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb visited a youth centre in Brent where they announced £150 million was being invested in services to help young people with eating disorders. From the BBC:

Mr Clegg will say he wants to see services transformed, with the focus shifted from expensive institutional care to targeted community-based provision.

Eating disorders cost the NHS around £200m a year, and the bill for in-patient care averages out at £98,750 per admission.

From 2012 to 2013, there were 2,560 hospital admissions for eating disorders in England – a rise of 8% on the previous year.

One in five of those taken into hospital with an eating disorder was admitted and discharged on the same day.

But one in 17 stayed in hospital for longer than six months.

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Opinion: Should we take the ‘Mental’ out of Mental Health?

Thanks to the work of Norman Lamb and other Liberal Democrat MPs, mental health has risen up the political agenda. For many years, NHS spending on mental health has lagged far behind that of other conditions and research into treatments for mental illness has also been disproportionately low.  MIND recently estimated that local authorities in England spend, on average, only 1.36 per cent of their total public health budgets on mental health – even though such problems cost the country an estimated £100 billion a year.

The aspiration of policymakers now is to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health, the subject of much debate in the health policy world.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Mental health is top of our list

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsWriting in the Express, Nick Clegg explains why he is making mental health a top priority for the Liberal Democrats:

I have ­decided to make mental health one of my priorities for the next parliament, something no political party has ever done before.

I want this commitment to ­continue to overhaul our mental health services on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto at the next election.

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